The 3Rs Principle in Textile Manufacturing

The three Rs of waste management stand for Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Together, these are the three essential components of environmentally responsible consumer behavior, and a detailed understanding of this 3Rs Principle can help to eliminate unnecessary waste and limit the consumption of non-renewable resources.

For example, let’s consider how cotton is produced for the textile industry.

A cotton textile manufacturer needs an abundance of water, pesticides, and energy to process cotton fibers and yarn. Water and energy are non-renewable resources unless the process uses recycled water and wind energy. Cotton production is especially problematic, though, because it requires freshwater sources that must be located near production fields. The 3Rs Principle can help address these concerns.

REDUCE

Spinning mills have devised some innovative new processes that utilize textile waste while saving on water and energy in order to reduce our reliance on non-renewable resources.

Understanding Textile Wastes

There are two different kinds of textile wastes:

  1. Pre-Consumer textile waste is generated in the production process.
    Examples include Offcuts, “B” grades, “C” grades, cotton wastage, yarn wastage, etc.

Post-Consumer textile waste is clothing, towels, sheets, etc. Post-product life, some of these types of textiles end up in recycling or donation bins. Once collected, these textiles are sorted for repurposing into new products. Some are used for cleaning and wiping rags, while many are donated to other countries. Our recycled washed knit rags and terry rags began their life cycle as post-consumer tee shirts and towels.

Pre-consumer cotton fabric waste.

Waste being loaded into machines to separate the fibers.

REUSE

By reusing textile waste to make new textiles, manufacturers can effectively begin to implement the 3Rs concept.

Modern processes can reuse the cotton fiber waste that results from the production of higher-quality cotton yarn. This commitment to reusability has actually yielded many new by-products that are used in textile manufacturing while eliminating excessive waste and pollution.

Regenerated Cotton Fiber

RECYCLE

It’s possible to recycle by-products of cotton product and use them in other situations. Recycled polyester mixed yarns and regenerated cotton, for example, are all widely used in textile production, today. This is how bar mops are manufactured more sustainably.

Cotton Yarn Recycling Machine

Bar Mops — The 3Rs at Work

Bar Mops are an inexpensive high-volume item. Manufacturers often use 10s yarn in all three directions – pile, warp, and weft. 10s yarn is made from specific percentages of waste cotton. To keep the strength of the yarn, manufacturers blend some virgin cotton with waste cotton from a higher-count yarn.

The process of using waste cotton creates a yarn that is not uniform, has lower strength, and looks slightly hairy. In other words, you wouldn’t use this textile for high-fashion products, but for bar mops, it serves the purpose and keeps the price low, which helps you to sell more.

Understanding Regenerated Cotton

The concept of regenerating cotton from used clothing material became popular between 2010 and 2013 when manufacturers began implementing sustainability and green production processes in earnest. It got consumers’ attention in 2015 when Levi Strauss & Co declared they were launching of world’s first jeans made from discarded denim fabrics and cotton.

Making fabrics out of regenerated cotton uses 95% less water than new cotton production, which is why the 3Rs Principle is so important here.

Recycled cotton bar mops, used predominantly for cleaning purposes, have become a super high-volume sales product with the advent of money-saving regenerated cotton processing—the preferred production method from a cost perspective.

Regenerated Cotton — The Process

The regenerated cotton process breaks cotton waste and finished fabrics down to a molecular level where the end product can be extruded into a new fiber. It literally takes cotton from a solid, melts it down to a liquid, and then converts it back to a solid, thus creating a reusable fiber in the manufacturing process.

The production flow is illustrated in the following graphic

The 3Rs — The Wrap Up

When manufacturers don’t use recycled and regenerated cotton, the scraps end up in a landfill, a complete waste of valuable resources.

Without sustainably processed types of cotton, first-run products cost so much more than just money. The ecological improvements and the economical prices we enjoy now are a direct result of advancements made in recycled and regenerated cotton processing technologies, thus completing the 3Rs Cycle.

Environmental Benefits

  1. Waste cotton and fabrics do not end up in the landfill
  2. Saves 95% of the water in the production process
  3. Saves energy
  4. Reduces the use of pesticides

Benefit to Corporations

  1. Direct impact on the triple bottom line of the corporation—PPP (People, Planet, and Profit)
  2. Sustainable and environmentally friendly companies improve life on Earth

Benefit to Consumers

  1. Low prices with similar functionality
  2. Peace of mind for the environmentally-conscious consumer

There are benefits for everyone when we reduce, reuse, and recycle in the textile manufacturing industry. When all these processes work together, we can eliminate unnecessary waste and limit the constant consumption of non-renewable resources.

If you would like to learn more about our ethical sourcing procedures please reach out directly to Tapash. For more information on Monarch Brands’ supply chain risk mitigation, please read Tapash’s article: Monarch Brands Supply Chain Management and Risk Mitigation Strategy.

 

Tapash Bhattacharjee, CSCMP
Global Sourcing Director
Monarch Brands.

(215) 482-6100 x 321

[email protected]

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